King's College London
War Memorials

Hopkinson, Bertram

Accidentally killed on 26 August while flying in England. Colonel Betram Hopkinson,C.M.G., F.R.S. Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge.  Eldest and last surviving son of the late Dr John Hopkinson, a dearly beloved husband of Mariana Siemens Hopkinson.  Military funeral at Cambridge on Friday 30 August at 2.30 p.m. Train leaves Liverpool Street at 11.50 a.m. The Times August 28, 1918

Colonel Bertram Hopkinson.  The funeral of Colonel Bertram Hopkinson, C.M.G., F.R.S., Professor of Mechanism, Cambridge University, will take place at Cambridge tomorrow, the first portion of the service being held in King’s College Chapel at 2.30. The Times, August 29, 1918

The Late Colonel Hopkinson

The King and Queen, through Lord Stamfordham, have sent a letter of sympathy to the widow of Colonel Bertram Hopkinson, C.M.G., F.R.S., Professor of Mechanism and Applied Mechanics at Cambridge, stating that they are deeply grieved to hear of his death, and conveying their heartfelt sympathy for the family in the loss which the death of her distinguished husband had brought to her and the Royal Air Force.

The funeral took place yesterday at Cambridge with military honours.  The first part of the service in King’s College Chapel, was conducted by the Rev. E. Milner-White.  As the body was borne through the great court the “Dead March” was played by fifes and drums.  After the service the choir sang the Nune Dimittis at the west door, before the procession moved away to St Giles’s Cemetery, Hungtingdon Road.  The congregation included :-

Mrs Hopkinson (widow), Mrs John Hopkinson (mother), Mr and Mrs Alexander Siemens (father and mother-in-law), Sir Alfred Hopkinson, Vice Chancellor of Manchester University (uncle), Mr Charles Hopkinson (uncle), Dr Edward Hopkinson (uncle), Miss Hopkinson (aunt), The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (the Master of St John’s), the Masters of Emmanuel, Calus, and St Catherine’s, Sir Joseph Larmor, M.P., Sir John Sandys (Public Orator), Sir G Bellby, Sir Dugald Clerk, Sir Richard Threlfall (represented by his son, Lieutenant Threlfall), Lady Darwin, Lady Napier Shaw, Dr Keynes, Mr Jenkinson, Professors Bethune-Baker, Stanton, Ridgeway, Barnes, Baker, Brent, Langley and Stanleyd Gardiner, and many other members of the University; Colonel H J Edwardes, Colonel F M Rushmore, Colonel L H Thornton, Lieutenant-Colonel Somerville, Colonel Wherry, Lieutenant-Colonel Heycock, Colonel Tizartd, Major A V Hill, Captain Edmonde Morse, Captain T C Mann and 250 cadets.  Brigadier-General J A du B Travers, unavoidably absent, was represented by Lieutenant R C Drinkwater.

The Air Ministry was represented by Brigadier-General Weir, C.M.G., R.A.F., Lieutenant-Colonel Reiss and Major Goode, representing General Brancker. The Times August 31, 1918

 Col. Bertram Hopkinson’s Work

Sir Alfred Ewing, Principal of Edinburgh University, sends us the following tribute to the scientific work of the late Colonel Bertram Hopkinson, C.M.G., F.R.S., dwelling on the misfortune that British science suffers through his death.  He says :- “It is indeed a tragedy in this regard that he should have been taken at the very summit of his powers, and at the moment when they were so fully engaged in serving the nation’s urgent need.  His genius for applied science was hereditary.  He had the same faculty as gave his father an honoured place in the history of electrical engineering, the same rare combination of mastery of theory and scientific method with appreciation of practical requirements and possibilities.  It was this that enabled him to be conspicuously successful as Professor of Applied Mechanics at Cambridge: and it was this that made the value of his war work almost unique.  It chanced that his own researches before the war, and those of students working under him in the Cambridge laboratory, formed in some degree a preparation for what was to come.  They dealt with the processes and results of explosions, with the action of internal-combustion engines, and with the fatigue of materials under incipient overstrain.  They were of high interest in themselves and in their bearing on matters of engineering practice.  But to Hopkinson they were more: one may say they constituted and apprenticeship for the great work of his life, which was the work of the past four years.  Of what he has accomplished in these years, for the Admiralty, and especially for the Air Force, it is not now permissible to speak.  This, however, may be said, that the war gave him such an opportunity as he had never had before, and into it he threw all his inventiveness, all his initiative, his untiring energy, his power of organisation, his unrivalled capacity for getting the best out  of himself and out of others.  No worker rejoiced more in his work, nor accepted its call with more absolute self-renunciation.  He was amazingly aloof from any consideration of personal advantage or personal convenience.  The pressure of exacting claims on his attention was continuous, but it seemed never able to ruffle his serenity nor impair the soundness of his judgment.  Many will mourn him as a genial and trusted friend, but only those who know something of his recent activities can have any idea of the magnitude of the nation’s loss. The Times September 12, 1918


First name(s)Bertram
Date of birth11 January 1874
Place of birthBirmingham
Family detailsSon of Dr. John Hopkinson, F.R.S., M.A., D.Sc., and Mrs.E. Hopkinson, of 'Ellerslie', Adams Rd, Cambridge; husband of Mariana Hopkinson (nee Siemens) of 10 Adams Rd., Cambridge
Previous educationSt. Paul's, London, Trinity College, Cambridge 1893-6 (MA Mathematics).
CollegeKing's College London and/or King's College London Hospital
Dept / coursePhysics
QualificationsB.Sc (1894) Experimental Physics
Military unitRoyal Air Force. Royal Flying Corps Nov 1915
War / conflictWorld War One (1914-1918)
Decorations / medalsC.M.G.
Date of death26 August 1918
Age at death44
Rank at deathColonel
Place of deathPaston, Essex
Cause of deathKilled in an air crash
Burial placeSt Giles Cemetery, Cambridge, 30 August 1918.
Commemoration(s)King’s College Chapel; St. Giles, Cambridge War Memorial
SourcesKing’s College London Archives: Commonwealth War Graves Commission; The Times

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